Many marketers make basic mistakes because they simply fail to understand their customers. If you can put yourself in your customers’ shoes, it’s easier to understand what they want and how to deliver it to them. When you empathise with them, you can create a marketing message that resonates with them and shows that you’re a responsive business that cares about their customers.


When you put yourself in your customers’ shoes, you quickly understand what they’re looking for. If you’re a restaurant owner, imagine what you’d expect if you were looking for a meal. You’d want the shop to be visible, clean, and friendly, and to offer something others don’t. Each market niche has certain characteristics that its customers look for.

Don’t only think about what they want, but also what your customers don’t want. There is always risk involved in making purchases, especially when a customer chooses a new shop or market stall for the first time. If you can imagine your customers’ fears and concerns, you can address them before your customers have a chance to worry or object.



One of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is to assume. In order to really understand your customers, you need hard data that they provide themselves. Listen to customer feedback about your company, as well as the conversations they have online through social media.

You can learn about people’s thoughts and feelings through blogs, blog comments, forum postings, and social media sites. Even better, you can solicit the specific data you need by directly asking them to take a few minutes to give you feedback. Online surveys are incredibly easy to conduct these days, and there are free tools, such as Survey Monkey, which walk you through it step-by-step.



Think about any company you deal with on a regular basis, and analyze your feelings about that company. Then, try to discover why you feel that way. A few questions to ask yourself are:

  • What do you like or dislike about them?
  • What makes you want to go back and do business with them again?
  • Is their image friendly and professional?
  • Can you easily get what you want from them, and are interactions with them smooth and seamless?
  • What does the company do when you’re not satisfied with their products or services?

Through these questions, you can understand as a customer what makes a business’s service good or not.



The empathy you gain from putting yourself in your customer’s shoes is especially important when there are customer service problems. You’ve surely had a problem with a company before and grown frustrated with the interaction. The way a company responds to customer complaints is critical. You should start by acknowledging the issue, and before trying to fix the problem, let them know that you understand how they feel.



To really put yourself in your customers’ shoes, you have to wear two hats: a business hat for times when you’re serving them as a business, and a customer hat when you’re dealing with their problems. If you and your staff can always approach your business as a customer and not just a marketer, you’ll know how to fashion your marketing so that it resonates with the people who really matter – your customers.

Activity: Download the Work Sheet

  1. Note at least 3 ways you will learn about your customers’ thoughts and feelings about your market.
  2. Make a list of your own likes and dislikes, from a customer viewpoint, about companies selling products or services similar to your own.
  3. Once you’ve done your research from Step 1, make a list of what your own customers like and dislike about companies in your market (including your own).